Firenze….here we come!!

Tanned and peeling, smelling of the sea , lots of limoncello inside us, we left the south coast behind with a sigh and it was on to Firenze..now I know where JK Rowling got her inspiration from…for the half man half horse character in the forbidden woods.

We made our way back through Naples which frankly didnt impress me too much except for its famous Napolitano Pizza but by now pizzas were pouring out from my ears so I wasn’t so tempted!

We passed thru the stunning Umbrian countryside and took in the sights that included its typical serene and quaint towns like Assisi and Orivieto. The same old rambling green hills that housed these little towns which we by now recognized as being so similar in their alleyways and cafes, cobblestone roads and stone walled houses that sprouted colorful and greenery…truly a sight for sore eyes.

The smooth onward train ride made our journey almost unnoticeable and soon we were headed to our hotel that sat just 50m from the gorgeous Duomo …Il duomo di Firenze or actually Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.
And how breath taking was it!!

We got into our busy hotel which was housed in a typically olden style building that has existed since the Roman times. It was a bit disconcerting to see a hotel hidden within its walls…a tad incongruous yet convenient. We knew that staying in the city centre involved being a part of a traditional styling and that’s what we enjoyed here. To stay at an ultra modern hotel a la the west would have been equivalent of insulting those that left us the architecture in the era BC….to treasure and uphold I’m sure they hoped!

We wasted not a moment as we knew there was a lot to take in …we were in Florence!

Donning our walking shoes again , our trusted steeds for this trip, we stepped through a narrow lane replete with gelaterias and cafes again. Little souvenir shops and fine dining…all with a 50 m radius surrounded us and cleverly hid the Duomo fron us long enough to surprise us when we stepped onto the piazza del Duomo…let me catch my breath!!
I will insist on being audacious and will declare this cathedral to be the prettiest one we had seen yet..even more than St. Mark’s Basilica…please forgive me if any of you objects to my observation. It’s just that it is so different in architectural styles from the ones we had witnessed before..built in the 13th century, this Gothic style cathedral was awarded an exterior that looks resplendent with its geometrical green ,pink and white marble and adorned with the most intricate of sculptures …gentle, detailed, fascinating. We sat to gaze…take it all in…eyes turned upwards in awe….for a long while!!
Until of course better sence prevailed.
We recovered quickly  enough to whip out our selfie sticks and do justice to our travel diaries……point, smile, shoot!!!! Wow!!! A few dozen more photos dropped rapidly into my camera roll…justice done!
What a backdrop!!
Foreground was also not bad!!!

We took off after half an hour..to explore further, not a minute to waste…we had to find David, Pointe Vecchio, Pallazzo Vecchio Uffizi, L’academie, Palazzo Pitti , Piazza del Signoria ..more and more Piazzas, more and more excrutiatingly gorgeous sculptures and artworks…mind you, these places are not for those who are bored by art and architecture…you want happening and glitzy, go to Patayya… you want raw , unapologetic love for the arts, you’re in the right place.

That doesnt mean it is not happening…just not in the quintessential way…for us, gazing, admiring, scrutinizing was enhanced by the vino we shared in front of all these Goliaths…the rose`, the prosecco, the chardonnays only served to add a tinge of mystique to the whole atmosphere…the Italians know and love their wines and we had to learn too…after all, when in Rome…err Florence…!!!

It was probably this very glass of rouge that I put into my sisters belly that dulled her better senses enough for me to able to force her to trudge a trifle hesitantly yet sportingly behind me as I traversed the length and breadth of Firenze and its many bridges and piazzas, galleries and fountains in search of that view that had inspired me to come here in the first place!
Blame it on Instagram and travel posts…not my fault!
I blocked out her protests and I’m sure a few curses were thrown in for good measure but I couldn’t care less! I coerced her on and pulled her along…I had to reach Piazzale Michelangelo if I wanted that ultimate viewpoint. It was 100 bridges, 20000 stairs and 50 roads that we traversed before we got to the top! And it was all worth it. Even my sister forgave me !!
The Duomo in all its glory stood before us, dwarfing the red rooftops that surrounded it …the whole city lay like a river of red before us …it was a glorious sprawl worthy of a bow and a pat on the back!!
Quick, grab that selfie stick!
We finally collapsed at the feet of a green David replica…replica it was but still owned the six packs and other more famous assets for which the original is known…wolfing down our double gelato which I think we deserved after that 29000 steps we had walked to get here…minus the steep steps!
Our eyes and cameras took it all in lest we forget…!!

Wait, it didnt end there…we ran across the road , crossing the piazzale to hop onto a bus headed for the green hills just outside Florence with its famous town of Fiesole ….the view carried on as we climbed higher and higher and every bend uphill would expose another facet of the city that lay below us. That was the crowning glory!!

Thankfully after that ,the walk back home was much shorter and a quick meal later we had settled into bed to dream of David and the day that was to follow next!

Advertisements

My holiday must involve water!!!

After scouring every street and alleyway in Rome…getting lost and found again to the point that we were actually able to give directions to other lost tourists, it was time to take the Trenitalia to the Amalfi Coast.
The trainride upto Naples was pleasant enough but uneventful…such neat and clean and dead-on-time trains with queued boarding!! What a contrast to our unfortunately stinky and crowded platforms where you dont have to make the effort to actually climb the train…you are simply shoved on by the surge of people behind you! It’s just a mindset here…why should I bother to keep the environment clean types!!
A quiet pleasant ride it was  with gorgeous countryside views….just a sighworthy unexciting trundle.
However,  as we turned the corner into Sorrento on our taxi fron Naples towards the sorrento coastline, we let out a gasp in excitement!! We were here!
Those who know me are well aware of what water does to me so that turquoise blue water freckled with emeralds, gold and diamonds on its calm surface sent a surge of contentment through me and a huge grin lit up my face!! I was quite like a Cheshire cat that time I’m sure!!
Our hotel lay atop a beautiful hill just off the road towards Positano and we were afforded the most gorgeous views of The Bay of Naple and Mt Vesuvius fron our balcony.
The next few days were a haze of events..walks and busrides to explore Sorrento and each pretty little town on the Amalfi Coast…the roads were windy and heartstopping but the views were to die for!
Sorrento was calm yet buzzing all the time..the perfect mix of new and old ..the perfect base for our next few days! It was well connected, restful yet happening and offered the best connectivity for a whirlwind of sightseeing from Pompei to Vesuvius, Amalfi to Capri, Ischia to Salerno!
Every evening we would stroll through its lanes passing high end stores and traditional ones too as local musicians brought the squares alive with their soulful, foot tapping and local and international music!
It was always a great way to wind down… eg After a boat tour to Capri and surroundings where we swam in the Mediteranean sea right in front of the famous Faraglioni arch that we sailed through to get to lovely calm spot …here we threw all caution to the wind and quickly stripped off our flowing dresses in a quest to be the first to plunge into the deep green, clear, cold water !!! We swam around happily , peeking into red  white,blue grottos…sipping wine on board the boat and taking in the wind and sun….. and snorkeling ..swimming erratically and crazily like fish..err whales???!!
Or After a few days spent taking hair raising busing rides along the Amalfi Coastline..about 30km long I think, visiting pretty spots like Positano the vertical town with its hidden boutiques, cafes and ristorantes…Amalfi, Ravello, Atrani, Furore, Praiano, Vietri sur Mare..the list is endless! Of course you cant compare the black sand or pebbles beaches here to the endless stretches of white powdery sandy Kenyan beaches , but they had a certain charm and even in the scorching sun which has turned me into a believable Kenyan by now, people were flocking to the water and sunbathing…roasting themselves to a toasty brown colour!.
The local flavors are deeply into colorful ceramic pottery which was delightful..from tiny souvenirs to crockery and decorative items in all shapes and sizes to huge vases and tables like the ones that hotels would clamor for. Linen ruled the clothing world…pastel soft fabrics and dresses adorned many a window display and seemed the most suited loose and cool clothing for the sweltering weather here!
The local bus drivers were adept at maneuvering those heart-in-the-mouth bends and very often seemed to fly off the very edge while still keeping the careening bus under control somehow!!
What an adventurous journey this was!!
What an interesting one!!
What a tanning one!!!
A great 3 days spent in an otherwise lesser traversed part of the world!! And we always had a cold comfy room to come back to every evening with the option to enjoy breakfast and dinner with a view….all over again!!
Err…..did I mention the amount of photos we took?? Good thing I emptied my memory before coming…my phone’s memory I mean!! Mine’s gone anyway!!!